GE Healthcare's Chief Learning Officer on Mentoring, Coaching and the future of Talent Development and the role of the CLO.
The "Corporate Ladder" has snapped. What modern companies should do about it.
The Corporate Ladder has snapped! Here's what you should do about it...
“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”
- Doug Conant, former president and CEO of Campbell’s Soup.
The landscape of today’s marketplace is constantly shifting beneath the feet of businesses trying to build rock-solid strongholds. Putting a team together, training them to handle specific tasks and then delivering to the marketplace and generating revenue while the ground beneath you churns like quicksand might seem like an impossible task, but there are countless businesses doing it everyday.
So what’s the secret?
It starts with creating a team of employees who believe in the mission of the company. Employees who are being properly developed and who have a strong personal connection to the company they work for, can be relied upon to drive things to next level. Belief in a cause, personal connection and human elements are far stronger factors in today’s workplace than ever before.
The marketplace can be brutal. It doesn’t care how “nice” you are or how “hard” you work. If your company and employees aren’t performing, your existence might be threatened. No one is dying out there, but it is a battlefield. And when fighting a battle, soldiers who believe in the cause will beat out all the odds to defeat a superior force.
If your workforce isn’t being developed or engaged, if they aren’t being mentored and they don’t feel a strong connection to your company, what are they going to do when things get tough? Will your employees buckle down when obstacles arise or will they go somewhere else where the sun might be a little brighter?
And don’t think employees being disengaged always manifest with them up and leaving. Imagine speaking to a room of workers, going over do or die deadlines and company projects only to be met with crickets and blank faces. When the meeting is over, your employees drift back their desks with glazed eyes to “work” all the while your bottom line sinks. This is probably an extreme description but I’m sure any CEO can think of examples of this happening within their own company – in fact, several national statistics indicate these problems plague many companies:
- 79% of business and HR executives world-wide admitted to having serious issues with retention and employee engagement.
- 91% of millennials don’t plan on keeping a specific job for longer than three years.
- 2 out 5 workers internationally are “disengaged” from their work.
- Based on widespread survey, the number one reason employees leave a job is lack of future career opportunities.
Companies today, can’t afford to ignore these indicators. Losing valuable talent is costly. Every lost employee cost about six to nine months of that employee’s salary to replace. This doesn’t factor-in additional lost income from lowered productivity within the company after employee departure.
So what can be done about this? How does a company go about increasing employee engagement and building a sense of belonging that drives company culture and productivity?
There are several modern strategies that forward thinking companies are taking advantage of. The first is breaking down the age old concept of a “corporate ladder.” Traditionally, companies are built around a hierarchy with workers on the bottom, middle management and top executives running the show. There are endless variations to the “corporate ladder” but the concept really doesn’t change: you work long and hard and as a reward for your efforts, you someday get to advance up higher.
Running a company this way isn’t as efficient as it once was – especially with 91% of millennials intending to stay with a company for a maximum of three years, no one will stick around long enough to climb the ladder!
According for Forbes: “The corporate ladder is vanishing, and it’s getting more and more difficult to deny the changing world of work. The enduring model for how companies have managed their work and their people since the industrial revolution, the ladder represented an efficient though inflexible paradigm in which prestige, rewards, access to information, influence, power and so on, tied directly to the rung you occupied. The problem is that we no longer live in an industrial age – nor is the workforce the uniform group it once was.”
In order to boost employee engagement, companies need to start operating off a “corporate lattice.”
A lattice, unlike a ladder, is a network of interwoven paths leading in multiple directions. A “corporate lattice” is a business structure that allows employees to move forward with their careers without always looking to move up a rung. Often times, the best moves are horizontal as there is knowledge and engagement to be had everywhere. This new structure provides an environment employees can freely explore without feeling stymied and also binds them to the company’s purpose on a personal level.
All right sounds great in theory? But what would this actually look like inside a company? It’s simple, but as HR is usually swamped, a little extra outside help can go a long way in implementing a self-directed employee engagement program like the one Mentor Resources has mastered.
The first step of implementing an effective employee development and engagement program is to clearly define the problem being addressed. The number one reason employees leave a job today is lack of career development. When they don’t feel their future is being developed on a personal and professional level they can be counted on to perform at sub-par levels and look for work elsewhere. Conversely, if employees are being developed, mentored and feel treated as individuals you can expect talented workers to work harder and hold a greater sense of loyalty to your company.
Here are are some specific examples of how this would look:
- On-boarding: Timothy is a new sales employee. He has great soft-skills and a magnetic personality. However, his knowledge of the product is limited as he is a new hire. Without an on-boarding program he might drift around with low production because he doesn’t understand enough about the product to close deals. His natural soft-skills would go to waste and his morale would sink. Eventually, he winds up feeling like a cog in a big machine and leaving. The company loses his valuable salesmanship without ever scratching the surface of his original excitement. An on-boarding program, correctly executed, would provide Timothy with a unique training plan to educate him on everything he needed to know to handle prospects and close deals for the company. He would also be buddied up with a veteran employee who would help Timothy with the nuances of the job. Timothy would have someone he could call when he had questions or needed support – a mentor. This is different than a boss or sales manager, but simply a friendly mentor who helped oversee his success. Timothy, feels cared for, he is learning from a veteran sales representative, he knows the company is investing in improving his own market value through constant education and his sales grow.
- Diversity – Jennifer is a new hire. She finds herself in an industry that is predominately staffed by men. Though strong, Jennifer feels alone. She doesn’t have any friends in the company and she’s afraid her shyness will work against her. Jennifer’s manager directs her to the company’s diversity mentor program where she is paired up with a high-level, female executive. They regularly have lunch and Jennifer can reach out whenever she needs guidance or support. Jennifer’s mentor shares stories, gives advice and acts an authoritative soundboard whenever Jennifer needs it, providing priceless advice. Jennifer feels closer to the goals of the company, knows that someone close to the top is looking out for her and her skill set is growing without having to fight up a corporate ladder.
- Career Mentoring – Brad has been working as a software developer for a couple years. The company values his work and he knows what he is worth out on the market. His job isn’t as challenging as it once was, and even though he is paid well, he frequently thinks about moving on and finding work that pushes his skills to the limit. Brad decided to check out his company's mentor program because the buzz around the office is that there are tons of career development programs helping employees increase their market value. He is carefully matched with a senior employee. Brad’s mentor works out the different skills he will need to develop to forward his career and helps him to develop those within his current job and workload. His mentor also introduces him to various contacts within the company Brad previously didn’t know existed and all of a sudden new doors are opening up, pushing his skill set to new levels. Instead of looking for new work, Brad continues his employment, uses the new knowledge he is gaining to not only increase his own abilities but to boost his level of productivity within the company.
- Succession Planning & Knowledge Transfer – Andrew has been working as a senior HR executive for years. He is planning on retiring soon. As part of the mentoring initiative, Andrew is asked if he would like to pass on his knowledge to up and coming employees. Andrew meets a young employee who is super-educated but lacks the soft-skills of an HR executive that are hard earned through years of experience. Andrew spends time with his mentee, walking him through the do’s and don’ts of HR and apprenticing him on soft-skills. His mentee feels honored that the company would grant him access to such a senior executive and Andrew can, someday soon, walk out the door knowing his shoes will be filled by qualified personnel.
All these program examples help people develop their careers while also becoming better employees. These programs are self-directed but employees still want guidance from other people who have been through it. Mapping out a career path and developing the skills necessary to walk it are a lot easier with a good mentor to help along the way. Mentor Resources is the industry leader that combines employee development programs such as mentoring, on-boarding facilitation, buddy systems and coaching with software. Our systems are proven to increase employee retention while boosting productivity and company viability.
Mentor Resources can help any company to leverage technology to create tailored career development programs that are cost-effective. This process is win-win for both the company and the employee. Without this type of win-win approach, neither employees or upper management will want to do their part in the program. Our mentoring software - Wisdom Share is a cloud-based program that is simple and comes with guided workflows. Included are tools for administrators to attract, enroll, connect and guide participants. We also provide analytics to ensure you can monitor your employee development program and easily see ROI metrics.
It’s a modern marketplace, with an evolving workforce. Every company needs a state of the art, and proven employee development program to create a team of employees ready to grow in the face of today’s challenges.
Mentor Resources is your launchpad.